When did you start dancing?
When I was 13 years old.
Why did you start dancing?
Because I liked it and in my house it was something normal to see ballet; although first I wanted to be a football or basketball player!
Which dancer inspired you most as a child?
Fred Astaire, Antonio Gades and Vladimir Vasiliev.
Which dancer do you most admire?
What’s your favourite role?
Those where I have to think and make the public think.
What role have you never played but would like to?
Leonardo in Bodas de Sangre [based on Lorca’s play Blood Wedding] choreographed by Antonio Gades.
What’s your favourite ballet to watch?
At the moment The Merry Widow because I’m working on it, and at this time of crisis in the world what could be better! And always all the films of Fred Astaire!!
Who is your favourite choreographer?
I love more than one.
Who is your favourite writer?
Why choose one when the world has so many writers who have taught me more than anyone else… I love books as much as dance!!
Who is your favourite director?
Ballet director? I’d choose Charles Jude [director of the Bordeaux Ballet company]… of course he’s my director now.
Who is your favourite actor?
Who is your favourite singer?
What is your favourite book?
Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray.
What is your favourite film?
The last film I saw and loved was El verdugo (The Executioner) by Luis García Berlanga. The last film I saw which shocked me was El verdugo by Berlanga.
Which is your favourite city?
Bilbao – and I had to chose my favourite wherever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
What do you like most about yourself?
What do you dislike about yourself?
What was your proudest moment?
When I opened my ballet school in Bilbao.
When and where were you happiest?
When I’m working, the place doesn’t matter.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
What is your greatest fear?
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I try to improve myself as a person in general.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
El dia a dia [day to day – everyday life].
What is your most treasured possession?
What is your greatest extravagance?
To be a classical dancer in Spain!!!
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Virtues are not overrated, it’s the way people use them.
On what occasion do you lie?
If you hadn’t been a dancer what would you have liked to do?
But I am a dancer!!!
What is your most marked characteristic?
I’m a worker.
What quality do you most value in a friend?
To be honest… well as much as possible – I’m not crazy.
What quality do you most value in a colleague?
Which historical figure do you most admire?
I wouldn’t dare name only one.
Which living person do you most admire?
My mother and father.
What do you most dislike?
What gift would you most like to have?
What’s your idea of perfect happiness?
It doesn’t exist; and anyway, that would be too boring.
How would you like to die?
I don’t want to die, but I don’t think I can avoid it… or can I???? At least to die with my mind and body as healthy as possible, and as late as possible, of course.
What is your motto?
“You can do and be anything you want in life, the only obstacle is yourself.” My mother gave me a photo with this motto on it when I was 12. I carry it with me always.
After studying at the Victor Ullate Ballet School in Madrid, Igor Yebra eventually joined Ullate’s company, Ballet de la Comunidad de Madrid while still a student, and continued with the company until 1996.
He has won various competitions and prizes including the Eurovision Grand Prix for Young Dancers in Paris in 1991; the 2nd International Maya Plisetskaya Ballet Competition in 1996; the Best Dancer of the Year Award from Italy’s Danza & Danza Magazine also in 1996; and the Leonide Massine Prize in 2003. In 2009 he was appointed as a member of UNESCO’s International Dance Council; and was named one of the Ilustre de Bilbao for 2010.
Igor Yebra’s repertoire includes the principal roles in Hans van Manen’s works Hameklavier, Five Tangos, In and Out, Grosse Fuga; Rudi van Dantzig’s Four Last Songs; Nils Christe’s Before Nightfall, Cuarteto; Jan Linkens’ Haydn Symphony; Alberto Alonso’s Carmen Suite; Alberto Méndez’s Muñecos; William Forsythe’s In the middle, somewhat elevated; Jiří Kylián’s Petite Morte; Mauricio Wainrot’s Carmina Burana and Chopin Numero Uno.
He has danced in many different versions of Giselle, Don Quixote, La Bayadère, Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Coppélia, Romeo and Juliet, and The Sleeping Beauty. He has also danced in Chopiniana , The Firebird and Le Spectre de La Rose by Michel Fokine; Icaro and Suite en blanc by Serge Lifar; El sombrero de tres picos (The Three-Cornered Hat) by Léonide Massine; Adagietto by Oscar Araiz; Zorba by Lorca Massine; Ivan the Terrible and Romeo and Juliet by Yury Grigorovich; Theme and Variations, Allegro Brillante, Sonatina, Concerto Baroco, Who Cares?, Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, Four Temperaments, Apollo and Violin Concerto by George Balanchine; Charles Jude’s versions of Raymonda and Paquita; La rose malade, La prisonnière, Le Lac des Cygnes et Ses Maléfices by Roland Petit; and Ronald Hynd’s The Merry Widow.
Many choreographers have created roles for Igor: Ronald Hynd (The Prince in The Nutcracker), Maria Grazia Garofoli (Albrecht in Giselle, Basil in Don Quixote), Vicente Nebrada (Siegfried in Swan Lake), Stefano Giannetti (Valentino in Il due gentiluomini di Verona-The Two Gentlemen of Verona), Micha van Hoecke (Rinaldo in La foresta incantata and Saeta), Lorca Massine (Jesus Christ in Laudes Evangelii), Victor Ullate (Root, De Triana Seville, Amor Brujo), José Granero (Daphnis et Chloé, Tango), Luc Buy (Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Paul Chalmer (La Vestale, La Gitana), Charles Jude (Basil in Don Quixote, Romeo in Romeo and Juliet), Ana María Stekelman (Felicitas).
He has worked as a guest artist with: Australian Ballet (permanent guest 1997-98), L’Aterballeto, National Ballet of Cuba, National Ballet of Venezuela, the Kremlin Ballet, Scottish Ballet, National Ballet of Hungary, National Ballet of Lithuania, Ballet of Teatro San Carlo in Naples, National Ballet of Yekaterinburg, Leipzig Opera Ballet, Ballet of the Arena of Verona, National Ballet of Ufa, Ballet Opera of Limoges, Nice Opera Ballet, Julio Bocca’s Ballet Argentino, and Kazan Opera Ballet, among others, and has danced in most of the important international galas.
In 2002 Charles Jude invited him to join the National Opera of Bordeaux to dance the Prince in Sleeping Beauty. Since then he has danced many roles with the company and on their tours to the Edinburgh Festival, St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theatre, Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, and theatres in Budapest, Italy, China and Spain. In 2006 he was named Etoile of the company. Also since 2002 he has been collaborating with the Rome Opera Ballet as guest principal dancer and participating in tours in Italy and abroad.
Igor has also occasionally created his own choreography: for the operas La Traviata, Carmen, Aida, Il signor Bruschino, as well as Carmen Suite Ballet, Nutcracker Suite ballet, and Cigne XXI.
In October 2008 he opened his own ballet school in Bilbao, the Amurrio Igor Yebra Municipal School.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.